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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2006 > March
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 24, 2006


U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission

Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez today co-chaired the 22nd meeting of the U.S.-Mexico Binational Commission.

In addition to Secretary Rice, the United States was represented by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock, Deputy Interior Secretary P. Lynn Scarlett, Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Roy Bernardi, Acting USAID Administrator Fred Schieck, and Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez.

The Binational Commission meeting is a unique institution, and is the principal mechanism bringing together cabinet level officials from the U.S. and Mexico to focus high-level attention on the full range of issues affecting relations between both countries. Held since 1981, the Binational Commission is indicative of the importance the United States and Mexico attach to their broad and concrete partnership in addressing the opportunities and challenges in our important relationship.

This year the Binational Commission included 10 working groups involving senior U.S. and Mexican officials. The frank and productive discussions in this setting are fundamental to expanding and deepening security and law enforcement cooperation, enhancing citizen safety in both countries, and exploring ways to make legitimate travel and commerce easier.

This year’s meeting afforded senior U.S. and Mexican policymakers the opportunity to consult on critical hemispheric issues such as promoting democracy, particularly in countries where it is fragile, as well as other regional and global challenges. Participants agreed that democracy, rule of law, and market economies with opportunity for all is the only basis upon which policies of sustainable development can be built.

Coming just prior to President Bush’s meeting in Cancun with President Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Harper next week to review the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), the Binational Commission with Mexico underscores the priority the Administration accords the North American partnership and the leadership role of North America in the Western Hemisphere and worldwide.

During our meetings today, the United States renewed its commitment to agreements to ensure the safety and security of our common border; we confirmed the importance of bilateral law enforcement efforts, especially along the border, and our efforts to return criminal fugitives to justice via the OASISS prosecution program and increased extraditions. We also agreed on safe, dignified, and effective measures to repatriate persons crossing our borders, and on a template for local repatriation procedures.

We reaffirmed our cooperation in forestry, including fire management and prevention, strengthened our good governance agenda, targeted methane recovery programs to better control pollution, and further committed to the delivery of low-sulfur fuels in key areas of Mexico. We affirmed U.S. support for Mesoamerica/Central American energy integration through U.S. engagement in the Inter-American Development Bank and USAID and United States Trade and Development Agency programs.

The two governments recognized the achievements of the "Partnership for Prosperity," a unique public-private partnership begun in 2001 to stimulate increased development, economic infrastructure, and education and financial sector cooperation.

Secretary Rice expressed the gratitude of the United States to the Government and people of Mexico for the generous assistance they provided during the destruction of Hurricane Katrina six months ago. The American people will never forget how our neighbor came to the help of distressed American citizens in their time of need.

The Binational Commission meeting is a strong signal that the U.S. – Mexico partnership that inspired NAFTA continues to deepen our economic integration, strengthen the security of our citizens, and provide a model of freedom and opportunity for the hemisphere and the world.

2006/305

Released on March 24, 2006

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